Wanderings of a Staunch Sherlockian

Sherlock - Ella

Sherlock‘s third season has aired since this article was first published, so let us know what you think about the new season in your comments below!

By Ella Halliday

(As seen in Pegasus Pages, December 2013)

After the announcement of an air date for American Sherlock viewers, in a typically Sherlockian style (a hurst with ‘Sherlock’ spelt out in roses roaming around the streets of London), the return of the consulting detective and his doctor has been at the forefront of many minds. As an obsessively dedicated fan, I celebrated the news by taking a short train journey to London for a Sherlock centric day.

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First on the itinerary for the day was the 221b Baker Street that is used in the series. After escaping the crowds  of people bustling around Euston and entering the chaos of the underground, I emerged into the packed pavement of Gower Street around UCL. I spent a good half hour searching for the illusive 187 North Gower Street and had a near heart attack when I saw the mirror plated building that was often featured in the shots in the show. Rounding the corner, ‘Speedy’s’ red front cover caught my eye and I may or may not have squealed in a very unsavoury manner to which many people sitting in the cafe turned to stare at me.

North Gower Street had been originally picked by Sue Virtue (producer of the series) and Mark Gatiss (writer of ‘The Great Game’ and ‘The Hound of Baskerville’ and ‘Mycroft Holmes’ in the series) while they had been sitting in the cafe after a day of looking for locations. Only the outside of building is used as set for 221b and interior shots and scenes are filmed in Cardiff. During filming, crew have to change the door number from 187 to 221b and Gatiss recalls that pizza delivery men, confused by the new door numbers, tended to wander on set and end up getting directed by himself or Virtue to the correct address.

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The next destination was perhaps more heartbreaking than expected. St Bartholomew’s hospital’s roof was the stage for the penultimate scene of The Reichenbach Fall, where Sherlock fakes his death and forces John to watch, who has no knowledge of the plot. My true Londoner mother, guide for the day, informed me prior to arrival that I have been using the incorrect term for the hospital. Apparently  it is customary to say either ‘St Bartholomew’s’ or ‘Barts’, but not ‘St Barts’. We spent yet another half hour to find the correct facade used in the scene with a picture from Sherlockology on my phone and directions from hospital staff.

On arrival at the correct facade, a quick glance upwards to the ledge of the roof confirmed our position and I made my way to the point where John had been standing as Sherlock said goodbye. Now, as many of you may be thinking, yes I am that sad, and your opinion of me is not going to improve when I tell you that I have seen the Reichenbach Fall episode 14 times. I’m not over exaggerating; I genuinely have seen it that many times, just ask anyone in my year. I can recite the phone call that Sherlock and John have just before he jumps, and as I stood in the exact position that John received that heartbreaking phone call, I cannot deny that I did feel a little emotional.

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My spirits soon rose when I approached the phone box and the dust covered windows of the building. Prior to August filming, the interior panels of the booth had been plastered in small notes proclaiming Sherlock’s integrity and the support of the public. The day I arrived, many of the notes had been taken away, but messages written on the interior in sharpie still remained. The call display of the phone itself read ‘CALL MYCROFT’ and several handwritten notes were left of the top of the phone with Tumblr URLS left as contact references. It would’ve been a sin to leave without leaving something of myself, and so I took a page of my sketchbook out and wrote a simple ‘I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES’ to place in a newly bare glass panel. The dust caked windows of the buildings also had messages written on them and were unfortunately very difficult to photograph, but their messages were similar to those in the phone box.

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I spent the midsection of my day wandering aimlessly and trying to look intelligent in art galleries, whilst concealing my disgusted confusion at some of the pieces, especially in the Tate Modern. My last sherlockian stop of the day was at the ‘proper’ 221b Baker Street. If some poor soul doesn’t  know the significance of Baker Street, a quick peek in the tube station may give them a hint. The wall is plastered with tiles imprinted with the classic silhouette of Sherlock Holmes and outside sits a large bronze statue of the man himself, as well as a sign directing to 221b.

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After being cooped up in art galleries for most of the afternoon, I did almost run to the door once I caught sight of it, much to my mother’s anguish. The outside of the building itself is strikingly similar to the setup at North Gower street with even ‘Speedy’s’ mimicking the architectural style of the gift shop.

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After purchasing my entrance ticket for the actual house, I spent some time browsing the shop and trying on the infamous deer stalker, or ‘death frisbee’ according to the Sherlock we know from the BBC series. The house itself was extremely cramped, but had the classic warmth and womb-like qualities of Victorian decor and items from the original Conan Doyle stories littered the surfaces of desks and bookshelves. A stupidly large bust of Holmes resides in the sitting room next to a case enclosing the original deer stalker and magnifying glass that Conan Doyle owned himself. The head of the Hound of Baskerville also takes pride of place in the sitting room with a guest book beneath containing all the birthday messages for Sherlock sent to the address.

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Visiting these famous locations  has restored some of my sanity, but nothing can  compensate for waiting for TWO YEARS to find out how Sherlock survived. Nor will it ease my anger that America has received an air date before Britain despite it being a British production filmed in Britain written by British writers and performed my British actors. Not that I’m bitter…not at all.

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Let us know what you thought about Season 3 in the comments below!

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